Wasteland: 2000 to 2010

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AN INVITATION TO WASTELAND

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Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2016

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It was the fall of 1999; I was working on an assignment in Munich, Germany for Penthouse Magazine.  I was scheduled to to produce a shoot for Dutch art director, Onno Klein who was working for Penthouse Holland at the time.  Onno and I met in Munich to produce the shoot for Penthouse.  He brought along a beautiful Dutch model from his home in Amsterdam for me to photograph nude at my hotel during my European tour.

During the shoot, Onno sat on sofa in the suite while we worked with a gorgeous brunette. He kept saying in between sets how much he thought I would love the place of his birth and that I would absolutely fall in love with the Red Light District, and the general openness of the culture in the Netherlands.  The attitudes and atmosphere in Holland at the time catered to creative types  like myself.  Onno was very convincing, and shortly after returning to my home in the United States, I received an email  to schedule a production in Amsterdam the next time I returned to Europe.

The art director sent  pictures of a variety of Dutch models to  choose from. One prettier than the next. I promised to make a final casting upon my arrival to perhaps the most creative, liberal, international city in the world, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

 

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WASTELAND

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On my very first trip to Amsterdam, I decided to photograph a friend of the art director and well-known model by the name of Justine Bakker.  Knowing that I was new to the city, Justine volunteered to show me around the quaint little village.  She introduced me first to Frans Verlinden, the owner of the famous Winston Hotel.  Frans was a  well known patron of the Arts in Holland.  Justine realized that if I met Frans, I would have direct access to many artists who frequented the Winston and worked around in the city of Amsterdam including; Paul Blanca, Micha Klein, Erwin Olaf, Aldert Mantje and others.  Frans and I became best friends and he introduced me to his closest friends.  Two of them happened to be the producers of the huge fetish Party based in Amsterdam called Wasteland.

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WASTELAND PARTY, AMSTERDAM

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Frans arranged a meeting for me to meet with the Wasteland organizers: Rene Meuessen and Jeroen Oosterhout.  The partners were apparently already familiar with my work and commissioned me to produce a picture for a poster that would symbolize and promote the next Wasteland event.  Rene and Jeroen also invited me to document the party as it occurred twice yearly (spring/fall) which resulted in the book WASTELAND, publisher; La Musardine, Paris. 2010.

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WASTELAND BOOK COVER

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WASTELAND SPIRIT

*(originally published as the forward to the Wasteland book)

Text by Josselien Meijs: Journalist and supporter of WASTELAND since 1994.

Copyright: Amsterdam, March 2010.

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If you dare to be different…if you are without prejudice….if you love living on the edge…if exploring your wildest fantasies makes you tick…

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Up to the point when fetish party Wasteland celebrated its very first edition in a regular club in Amsterdam, the fetish scene was still confined to the not widely accessible, and therefore somewhat elitist underground.  Now, 15 years later, Wasteland is the epitome of a fetish extravaganza. Wasteland has become a household name even for the less outspoken, yet open minded, nervy thrill seekers.

In 1994, the very first Wasteland immediately made its claim to fame.  A bridge was built connecting two mainstream (heterosexual) clubs in the predominately gay district of Amsterdam. This bridge proved to be a groundbreaking initiative superseding the literal sense.  Gays, straights, transsexuals, fetish, aficionados and a “regular” club crowd, to whom this was ALL new, found each other in a exhibitionist orgy of sexuality.  The images of this uninhibited demonstration of defining one’s sexual identity ignited global controversy.  They made headlines and caused enough upheaval for Dutch politicians to put it on the political agenda.  Did banality defy morality?  To debut with such a buzz in a known liberal country is, especially to Dutch tolerance standards, quite an achievement.

But Wasteland was set up with a far simpler (or nobler) intention than causing a riot: making sexual experimentation – which, in a consensual setting, would contribute to a healthy sexual make up – reality for all.  Allowing people to develop their sexual persona in a safe environment without any social and cultural restrictions.  So far, the threshold put up by the underground scene had excluded many people to experience this adventure.

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Wasteland Poster 2005

For some Wasteland is just an exciting dance party with an eclectic mix of beautiful people, freaky characters, gory acts, dirty deeds and burlesque fun (where else is a kinky karaoke serous business?). For others, including myself, Wasteland has proved to be much more than that.  Whatever its meaning may be, Wastelands quality of tongue-in-cheek and self-mockery versus grand spectacle caused many to dub Wasteland “the Supebowl of Fetish”.

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Wasteland Poster 2003

Acclaimed photographer Tony Ward has, over the years, been able to capture the quintessence of Wasteland.  His portraits of characters that frequent “the land of sin” speak for it. Freaks, extraverts, introverts, laymen, veterans, average Joe’s finally unite due to the one big thing they have in common at Wasteland: an open mind, free of prejudice.  We thank TW for documenting this unique phenomenon.

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Portrait of Josselien Meijs by Tony Ward, Copyright 2016

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